Building a Bird House

With beets, lettuce, and a variety of flowers carefully planted in neat little rows in our garden, our backyard was starting to look pretty good. There was something missing though; although the garden bed was filled with flora, Renee pointed out that we were missing some garden friendly wildlife. That’s when I was commissioned to build a nesting box for our neighborhood birds.

Renee is an avid bird watcher, so she chose the particular tree swallow nest box design available at in order to attract the types of birds she wanted to see in the yard.

The first step to building the bird house was to find some suitable wood and to mark out all of my cuts. I had some maple (?) laminate that had lived its previous life as a tray table lying around; once stripped of its varnish and sanded down, it looked like some pretty nice wood!

The boards all cut to size

The next step was to create some ventilation for the birds using the box as a nest. I did this by cutting an angle along the top of the sides of the house. This way once the top of the bird house was attached, a gap for air would be left in between the top and the sides:

And some quick cuts at the table saw:

Next, Renee joined me in assembling the box. We began by dry fitting pieces together and realized that the plans we were using had incorrect dimensions for the bottom: instead of 9″ x 6″, the bottom piece should have been a square 6″ x 6″. I went ahead and cut the bottom to its square size and then cut off the corners at a 45-degree angle to allow any water to drain out. Then we went back to dry fitting and assembling.

Since we would be nailing all of the boards together, we determined that this could be most easily accomplished by first clamping the two sides to the bottom before driving in any nails. After the sides were nailed to the bottom, we attached the front and the back. Renee’s carpentry skills were really impressive.

Once the sides, front, back, and bottom were nailed together, we went ahead and attached the top with a pair of hinges. The final step was then to drill a hole in the front to place a small perch in:

After the hole was drilled, we inserted a dowel and marked where we would want to cut the perch to what looked like an appropriate length:

And that was it! A quick coat of some UV protected deck stain + sealer and the bird house was ready to mount to a tree with some chain and a screw.

Originally published at on June 17, 2014.

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